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FACE TO FACE INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR ANIL KUMAR
OFFICIAL TRANSLATOR OF SWAMI'S DISCOURSES
BRO ANANDA PERERA RETIRED DIRECTOR OF NEWS AND PUBLIC
AFFAIRS OF SINGAPORE BROADCASTING CORPORATION
OM OM OM
Ananda Perera: With humble Pranams at the Divine Holy Feet of Bhagawan Sri Sathya SaiBaba. We have the great opportunity, once again, of welcoming you to Singapore.
Anil Kumar: SaiRam. I am equally happy to meet you this morning.
AP: I would like to start at the very beginning. Why did Swami create this universe?
AK: It is what we call leela or divine sport. As Bhagavad-Gita says, the entire creation happened by His will. The whole creation is God´s playground, or the play of God. Just a matter of His will that gets manifested in the form of the whole of creation. He has created the whole of this cosmos so He can love Himself. He has separated Himself into many so as to love Himself.
AP: Could that be seen, by the people who are not that perceptive, as a very selfish act?
AK: The whole purpose of your life, your sadhana, the spiritual endeavor, the spiritual pursuit, demands to experience that Divine Love. That is what religion and spirituality is all about; to experience Grace and Divine Love. You and God are One, but you got separated because of the creation in between. That oneness with the Divine is the prime search of every spiritual seeker. The realized man has recognized that many exist in the One.
AP: So we are sparks of the Divine, and the whole purpose of this journey is to go back to the Divine. If you put it in simple terms, for example how would you explain this to a child?
AK: The child is fully secure when the child is very close to the mother. Simple example: if you shout at a child, the child starts crying, but as the child walks with the mother, holding her hand, he is quite secure in the hands of his mother. Similarly, when a devotee is very close to the deity, or any God of his choice, he will have that spirit of security and safety, surrendering his whole being. Surrender is purely an inner phenomenon, it does not mean that on the outer level you cannot take action and change situations. It is not the overall situation you need to accept when you surrender; it is just this very moment
AP: Are catastrophes, cyclones, earthquakes and different tragedies in the world a part of the Divine will and love?
AK: All this is love that is misused, abused, or Love which has not been put into practice in the true spirit. Man has over exploited nature, God has given this nature as a gift, a precious gift, to mankind. Now we have to face the reaction, nature pays us back for all the things that we have done to it, so what we have to realize is to be respectful towards nature and not merely exploit it. Everything is a reaction, reflection, and resounds, as Baba says.
AP: Swami has said many times that not a blade moves without His will. Is all this His will?
AK: If and when we know by heart that everything happens because of God's will, we will have nothing to complain about, nothing to feel proud of. We will be balanced, serene and content, with a loving and joyful state of mind. Anyway, if it is not a realization in our being that nothing moves without His will we will have a mind which still goes to different extremes. It is not enough to know it by the mind; it has to be integrated as wisdom from within.
AP: Do men have free will?
AK: Here are two words: free and will. First, is man free? No, man is not free; he sees that which he is not supposed to, he listens to what he should not. So, the senses distract his attention, they are drawn towards sensual pleasures. So, he has no control over his senses! He has no control over his mind! Such a man, who has no control over his body, mind and intellect – how can he have free will?
AP: Who controls the man?
AK: He has to realize that he is beyond the body, mind and intellect that the Supreme Self, Supreme Consciousness, is beyond; they are above the body mind and intellect. The moment one inquires about that self, everything will be under control. Self realization, the experience of the Self; is the only way to control the senses and the mind. Make a habit to ask yourself: What is going on inside me at this moment? Do not analyze, just watch.
AP: It sounds as if it is easier said than done.
AK: Very true, yet that's the only way. One day or other, we all have to walk on the path of self-realization, this life or next life, any life. It's worth trying as soon as possible. Once we make an attempt to experience the Self and we are fortunate enough to have a taste of the Supreme state of Bliss, naturally we will run after it.
Simple example: The natural state of a common man is Bliss. We all go to sleep every night right? In that deep sleep state, sushupti, the mind is withdrawn and at rest, the senses are at rest, the intellect is at peace. Next morning, we feel very fresh, we know if it was a good sleep when we feel highly energetic. Why? In deep sleep, it is only the self that remains, the body, the mind and the intellect are passive, withdrawn and inactive. It is the Self that rules, governs, as the witness.
If that deep sleep state of Bliss is experienced in the waking state also, it is what is called Samadhi. Samadhi is the experience of that deep sleep state, usually by the effort of Sadhana.
AP: Could you please explain Samadhi to the audience.
AK: Sama; equanimity, Dhi; intellect. The Dhi maintains the equilibrium or equanimity in both states; victory/defeat, success/failure – it maintains that balanced state, Samadhi.
Maintain balance in confronting difficult situations, as well as keeping the balance in facing success and victory; that is Samadhi. Treating everybody equally, going beyond status and riches, he is able to move equally amongst the pundit and the pedestrian. That is Samadhi: equal, equality.
AP: It looks as if it's a very difficult life for most of us indeed. In spite of all the material welfare we have today! Please put light on this.
AK: All the parameters of the society for example TV, computers, shopping centers, all the many different entertainments, they deviate our attention and dissipate our energy. It is not the standard of living which is important, but the manner of living.
When I start moving with everybody, when I start serving others, I experience love. Baba says ‘love all serve all.’ When I start establishing rapport with everybody, irrespective of their caste, creed or community, I have the taste of the Divine love. I have the joy and thrill which I would never have otherwise. By moving with everybody, we will know we are all one and the same. It is only the ego that makes a person feel that he is extraordinary, once the ego is gone; we will feel no different from our fellow beings, no matter what. Bliss and Grace will grow out of a being that radiates simplicity and love; there is something extraordinary and great in that.
AP: How does that go together with solitude, quietness?
AK: Solitude or quietness is a state of the mind. One may be in the marketplace, but still experience solitude. I am thinking of the Divine, my mind is running after the Divine thought. I am meditating inwardly whilst in the marketplace, or at work, going along the busy streets, but still meditating. That is what we call solitude.
One may be alone yet his mind is at the marketplace thinking of everybody. Solitude doesn't mean running away from the crowds, or physical aloneness or loneliness. Solitude is a state of mind, which is rather concentrated, which is focused while in the midst of company. Have always some of your attention connected to the Divine at all times. I think I am clear.
AP: If you attain that kind of state, would you also get into little accidents – like falling, breaking your bones and so on? As Swami has shown in his human form, is that what it is?
AK: In fact, once our mind is focused deeply and highly concentrated, as a meditative mind is, you are more safe and protected as a result. If you safeguard wisdom, wisdom will safeguard you. Everything you do with full concentration, awareness and tenderness is meditation. It can be driving your car, jogging, talking, or eating. Anything that you do with total awareness gives transformation. Before we go into Babas world we have to know our Self.
AP: Swami makes a distinction between ‘concentration’ and ‘meditation’. He said ‘the fisherman is concentrating to get the fish. Would you also say that he is meditating to get the fish?’
AK: There are three states here; he goes to that spot where he thinks he can catch many fish. He walks along the riverbed and throws his net at a place where he feels; intuitively he can catch more fish. That is concentration.
Concentration takes you to the next stage of contemplation. As he throws the net, he will be thinking of the fish only, nothing more than that. How many fish can he catch? Which one gets into the net? That constant thought of fish is contemplation.
Finally, when he is successful in catching fish, as he tries to take out the net from the river, he jumps for joy; he is lost, because he could get what he really wanted. He is totally in the act of fishing, nothing more and nothing less than Bliss, totally in the moment.
So meditation has these three steps – concentration, contemplation and last stage Bliss. Totally in peace, joy, Bliss and surrendering. This is the whole process of meditation.
AP: Can you please explain more about the part of concentration.
AK: Concentration, taking you into contemplation. You know that you are concentrating; you know that you are contemplating. In concentration, you are there, and the object of concentration is there. In contemplation, you are there, and the object of contemplation, on which you think about, that particular object – is also there.
In meditation you cannot exist, you are lost. That I-ness is gone. You are one with the Divine.
Simple example: Sir Isaac Newton, when doing his experiment, he forgot himself. On the day of his marriage, he fails to attend church to get married. The bride comes, 'Look here, we have to get married. Come on.' 'Oh I see!' then this man goes. Then what does it mean? He has become part of the experiment. He is the test-tube, he is the laboratory, he is the observation and he is the inference. He – is no more. That is meditation. A scientist meditates, an engineer meditates, a painter meditates and a poet meditates. Why, even in the ordinary world, a young man falls in love with a girl, constant thought about the girl – even whilst dining or reading he thinks of her, that is meditation. Totality of existence, when you are totally in anything, that is what's called meditation.
AP: You mentioned Sir Isaac Newton. Swami has mentioned many times that he went mad. Such a great being, he discovered gravity and all the things he achieved what happened to him?
AK: There are two things here. One is the head, the other is the heart. When the head takes up so much stress and strain, so much reasoning, when the head goes on doubting endlessly based on logic – he ends his career in madness. He goes mad altogether, because mind is full of thought and counter-thoughts, mind is full of conflicts. As a scientist, he goes on doubting his own theory, questioning his own observation. Ultimately, he doubts himself, then he loses confidence and then he turns mad. That's what happens. Therefore, it’s very important to maintain balance between head and heart. Head is logic, heart stands for poetry. Head is full of knowledge, while heart stands for wisdom. The head is ego-centered, the heart is universal. So, if one experiences head and heart simultaneously, with full awareness, the head should go down deep into the heart, based on true value naturally you would be in samadhi, equanimous, or else, he turns mad.
AP: You mentioned another word, during this conversation, which many people may not understand, that is I-ness. Could you explain this I-ness?
AK: I-ness has two phases, I-ness with reference to the outer world, supposing I say, 'I am Anil Kumar', this I-ness, identifies with the name I wear. 'I am a Professor' – identity with the job. 'I am an Indian' – identity with the country I belong to. So we get identified with our country, profession, our age, status, or whatever it may be; this is one sort of I-ness. If this I-ness is of interest to others it can make you feel like you are above them, that you are superior or special, this is what you call ego. Pride is when this ego takes you to that state as to dominate others. So, I-ness, ego, pride, are three levels – with reference to the exterior or outer world in interacting with the community and society.
In deep sleep, there is no mind, no body, there's no intellect, and still there is one that you do not know. That is the Supreme Self, the eternal witness that is the real 'I', Aham.
AP: In deep sleep, sushupti, does ego play a role in your dreams?
AK: There are three states: waking state, dreaming state and the deep sleep state. In the waking state our body; mind and Atma are connected and active. In the dreaming state our mind and Atma are active and connected. Here the mind still goes on imagining, hallucinating, dreaming, all sorts of things, projections, unfulfilled desires of this world – they all appear in our dreams because of our mind. While in deep sleep state only Atman exists. No mind, no body, that's what it is.
AP: Who gave us the mind?
AK: The wave in the ocean is there because of the wind; the pressure of the wind produces the waves on the surface of the ocean. Similarly the senses and actions, in relation to the outer world, is the cause of the mind, it is something like software. The mind the past the memories are the cause of all the desires, impulses, sentiments, feelings – and that would translate into action later in our daily life situations.
The mind is of one's own making. Simple example: When I think of God as I sit in meditation, in deep prayer – where is the mind? Once I open my eyes and start looking at people, mind crops up, so mind is of one's own making. Mind can be withdrawn by the very same individual. The senses and outer world are the cause for this gigantic devil that we call mind. The thoughts play a vital role in the mind.
AP: Can an average person understand this?
AK: We can tell an average person to watch how the mind is when we are in trouble, watch the mind in the midst of a crowd, when we are in the office, and watch the mind when we sing Bhajans. What is the state of your mind in Bhajans, what is the state of your mind in meditation? You will clearly notice the difference. The mind is usually peaceful during Bhajans and equanimous in meditation.
We often find our self restless while in a crowd interacting with society, something like the turbulent ocean. To be conscious and keep the awareness open on two levels; what is happening in the outer world and what are the reactions in my inner world? Watch and do not react; if we practice this all persons will be able to understand I-ness and Atma by their own experiences.
AP: Can you kindly explain what Bhajan means?
AK: Bhajan means singing the glory of God of your own chosen form and name. When once you start singing His glory, what happens? You start thinking of your chosen Deity, you start visualizing that Lord who is so dear to you, you think of His smile, of His Divine Personality, you think of His greatness. In the very thought of that chosen form and the song, you are lost! There's no singer now, there's only the song.
I can give an example: Picasso, the famous Spanish painter, was looking at his art when somebody said, 'Look here Picasso that is a wonderful painting isn’t it? Now Picasso looks at the painting and says, 'Is that so? Is that my painting? Do you think it is good?’ He also admires his own painting like anybody would; meaning he is lost in the painting the picture sustains, the painter is not there. Similarly, when the singer is lost in ecstasy, the singer is a witness to his own song. That is what is called Bhajan. Bhajan is divine melody. Bhajan is a sort of dialogue between you and your God. Bhajan is divine romance between a devotee and the chosen God.
I: Are there rules for Bhajans?
AK: There are rules for every spiritual activity. For example: rituals like yagnas and yagas during festivals – Sankranthi, Dasera, Christmas, Ramzan, there is some paraphernalia, rituals, some procedures.
When driving your car, you go on singing: gopika mala haari pyari, mari meera mana vihari, madana mohana muralidhari Krishna jai. You don't expect a huge audience there, nobody can hear you, but you go on singing. Why? For your own joy, for your own ecstasy, Bhajan or singing the glory of God, is an activity which has no rules, no regulations, no reason and no season. That's all.
I: There are some parameters for Bhajans in Bhajan centers, aren't there?
AK: Yes, there are. In Bhajan, there are two things, first I sing for myself, the individual, secondly, I sing in Sai centers. Supposing we have hymns in a church, when you sing in a big congregation in a large group, you need some kind of training; that is your voice has got to be quite good, melodious, so that others would appreciate the sound of your voice. There should be clarity in the rhythm and the beat; it is congregational worship, group singing. From that point of view, rules are laid. Since you are to draw the attention of others, since others have to join you, you need some kind of training, that’s all; it’s only to make it interesting and uplifting for others.
AP; Bhajan seems to be an activity of contentiousness in some societies here, Sai societies included. The person who is coordinator takes a very central role. Good or bad Bhajan doesn't matter sometimes, he or she thinks that, 'I have the copyright for this.' I have heard this being said, so I just want you to address the aspect of ego in this context.
AK: As a singer, I may feel that the man in charge of Bhajan is exercising his authority, as the singer, I may feel that. But if I ask that coordinator, 'Why are you restricting me? Why the rules?’ That coordinator will tell me, 'Look here, Mr. Anil Kumar, I am in touch with the general public, I know the response of the group and I know the people coming to the centers. So, my judgment, my decision, is based on the feelings of the general public, not that I am against you.' So, he speaks from that viewpoint. As a singer I feel he is restricting me. So we have to look at it from that angle.
AP: No, the point I am making is, where the Bhajan coordinator herself or himself thinks: 'I have got the best voice, therefore I will sing No.1, I will sing No.3, I will sing No.9, and I will include my friends above others. Would you condone it?
AP: You are touching on bhava now, could you explain that, in detail.
AK: Well, there are a few types of Bhajans. One: simply the name of God, name, that's all, we go on repeating it
(AK sings) sadguru naam, gurnanak naam, sadguru naam, gurnanak naam, this is only singing. Same song – Krishna jai, Krishna jai Rama kothanda Rama, Rama kalyana Rama, that's all name. This is called namasankeertan, only name.
The second is leela namasankeertan. (AK sings) Govardhanadhara Gopal. Chitta chora Yashoda ke baal, navaneetha chora Gopal. Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, Gopal, govardhanadhara Gopal. 'Oh Krishna, you could lift that govardhana mountain. After all, can’t you lift my life; can't you take me to higher level of consciousness? Am I a burden to you? Do I add extra weight to you my Lord?' Govardhanadara is leela namasankeertan.
Third one: (AK sings) Daya sagara karuna kara. Daya sagara – ocean of compassion. They are attributes of God, bhavanamasankeertan. (AK sings) Devaki tanaya, daya nidhey, daya nidhey, krupa nidhey. You are nidhi, the treasure of grace, krupa. You are nidhi, the treasure of compassion, daya. Bhavanamasankeertan. Namasankeertana, then leela namasankeertana, then gunanamasankeertana, we simply praise him. 'You know everything, my Lord. You are the sun, you are the moon.
You must know that famous (AK sings) Prem eshwar hai, eshwar prem hai. You sing His attributes, what God stands for. Gunanamasankeertana. So it takes you from one level to another level, one height to another height, something like a diamond that has so many faces, so many facets of brilliance or radiance, so do Bhajans.
AP: Swami has talked about bharatha, standing for bhava, raga, tala. Must these three be in consonance for the power of Bhajans, in all consciousness?
AK: That's what is called Bharath rath is love and God. Love for God is bha-rath. Bha-ra-tha – bhava, raga, tala is the country where people sing the glory of God with perfect beat and rhythm.
AP: Swami has attributed the singing of Bhajans to the founder of the Sikh religion, sadguru Nanak. Now what I am coming to at this stage of the interview is to get Swami's thoughts on the founders of the religions, starting with the singing of Bhajans by Guru Nanak. It was Guru Nanak who started this mass movement of Nagarsankeertan singing.
AK: It is a kind of expression of gratitude. It was Guru Nanak who started this community singing, this mass movement of singing: Nagarsankeertan. While in Hindu faith, we have Lord Chaitanya for all these Nnagarsankeertan, so when we include all these names of those pioneers, and when we think of those names, we receive vibrations from those people. Simple example: When we hear the name of Gandhi or look at his picture, what kind of feeling do we have? When you look at the picture of Subhas Chandra Bose, you will be full of patriotism, courage. When you look at the picture of Mother Teresa; compassion, care, concern and sympathy for everybody will arise. So when we mention the name of Chaitanya, Guru Nanak, naturally we will get the vibration, the matchless names which inspire you for your own benefit. That's why we include those names.
AP: What does Swami say about Jesus Christ?
AK: Swami speaks very highly of Christ. According to Baba, we have to understand Christ and His consciousness. The future generations have to know that Christ is not merely a person. Christ-hood, Buddha-hood, Krishna-consciousness, is a state of achievement, an accomplishment, a zenith or climax to human existence, to human activity, to human pursuit. Christ-hood means one who has cultivated those noble qualities; like sacrifice, compassion, love, and forgiveness. These are the values that Christ stands for and we have to attain it as Christ, in his own life, attained it. Jesus was a person, whose only joy was spreading Divine love, offering Divine love, receiving Divine love, living as Divine love.
Look at Jesus Christ; he began his spiritual Sadhana by declaring to the whole world that He is only the messenger of God. And the messenger of God meaning 'I am different from God'. That's what we call dualism or dvaitha-bhava.
In the next state, intermediary state, Christ goes to higher levels, altitudes, meditates, and later he declares, 'I am the Son of God'. Messenger is different from Son; Son is dearer to me, much nearer to me. That is what we call qualified non-dualism or vishista-dvaitha.
Christ on the cross said, 'I and my Father in heaven are one. I am not different from my Father'. That speaks of non-dualism or advaitha. So in Christ's life, there are three levels of consciousness, there are three levels of achievement and three levels of experience for the spiritual seeker. From dvaitha to vihsista to dvaitha to advaitha. Christ as a seeker, an aspirant, a role model of the forgiving Lord, the Lord of sacrifice and the Lord of love.
There is one word, Jesus said: “Abba” to address his Father. If we repeat the same word, 'abababababab' it will ultimately be 'Baba'. Jerusalem, Salem is peace; Jerusalem is a place of peace, 'Prasanthi Nilayam'. There are so many parallels between Baba and Jesus Christ. Baba always refers to giving and forgiving, so does Jesus Christ. So when you speak of Jesus Christ I forget all norms of time because I am the product of a Christian college.
We also have Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who practiced different religions and ultimately could teach to the whole world the universal religions.
AP: Why did the great Son of God doubt on the cross and say, 'Why hast Thou forsaken me?'
AK: Let us take it this way: Christ doubted, say the scriptures, but it is the experience of every seeker. There is one great devotee from Andhra Pradesh, Ramdas, you must have heard of him, he went on blaming God towards the end, he blamed God for all his suffering; then he suddenly realized, 'I am sorry God, I could not bear this suffering, so I blamed You. I could not bear this suffering and pain, therefore I am complaining, forgive me Lord,' says Ramdas.
Similarly Christ doubting on the cross is a common experience of every seeker, of every devotee at one stage or another. So Baba speaks of a common experience that happens to every devotee at every stage along the spiritual path. Not Christ as an individual, but everyone’s path to enlightenment?
AP: Similarly what did Swami say about Lord Buddha?
AK: Buddha, same thing, his name is Gautama, Gautama Buddha. Buddha is the title, Buddha is not an individual. Siddhartha and Gautama attained the state of Buddha-hood. I will say a few words about Buddha-hood.
It is the buddhi, the intellect that discriminates, judges which is right and that which is wrong. So let us make use of our buddhi, the intellect, discriminate between the right and the wrong. Bhuddam saranam gachchami, I surrender to my buddhi, that helps me to decide, to divide and to discriminate, that helps me to do what is good. To know what is good, to know what my obligation is to society, to understand with the help of my buddhi what has to be done; then I follow that path of realization. Dhammam saranam gachchami.
You can know the dhammam, the righteousness, the righteous conduct, because of this buddhi; first surrender to buddhi: Sangam saranam gachchami. So with buddhi know what dharma is and practice dharma in society, sangham.
So three levels; bhuddam saranam gachchami, dharmam saranam gachchami, finally sangam saranam gachchami, that is Buddha-hood.
AP: Lord Buddha never spoke of God the Creator throughout his known dharmic journey. I have seen the instrument being stringed by a lute player, if it is too loose you cannot play, if you tighten it too hard, it will break. I have done both, as a penance, of being in the forest and almost dying and I have found the Middle Path. He left out the word God altogether. What does this mean?
AK: Well there are two ways of looking at this, I worship Rama, this is one way. There is another man who says 'I love truth, I follow the path of truth, and to me truth is God.' He doesn't mention the name of any God. He says he is a truthful man; he is a man of truth. So one refers to a name, one gets attached to a value. Value and the name are the same.
God, with reference to name and form, is one way of approach. God as energy, as a cosmic energy; God which is universal, omniscient, omnipresent, nameless – what name can you give? How do you describe him? Buddha kept quiet. Not that He is reluctant, or indifferent. Actually speaking, you cannot explain God. You cannot describe or explain Him; even the very Upanishad says the words fail to describe Him.
The mind fails to comprehend Him. Yatho vacho nivarthanthe. Aprapya manasa. Yatho vacho nivarthanthe – the words return, the mind fails. Aprapya manasaha – the word fails along with the mind to comprehend Him, to know Him, to estimate Him, therefore Buddha kept quiet, but there is sound in his silence; it is a wordless word and a soundless silence. In that state of silence he experienced the vibration of omkar within him, which is not verbal or vocal. That's how I understand it, he may not mention the name of God, but he looks at it as cosmic energy, as a universal phenomenon; that which cannot be said or understood.
AP: You mentioned three 'om' words – omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Could you explain these three 'om' words to a person who cannot conceive what it exactly means?
AK: Well, if one is a follower of Sathya Sai Baba, he/she will experience that Baba is able to tell him/her everything about his/her life. Certain very personal things, that even his close family members don’t know, are known to Swami. He can easily reveal hidden things from the past, present and the future.
AP: Can you give an example from your own life?
AK: Once he casually asked me, 'What were you doing at home?' Well I said, 'Swami, I am having a sip of coffee.' 'No, you were watching TV also Baba said. Well, that made me know he knows what I was doing. Not only sipping coffee, but I was watching TV as well. Another day Baba asked, 'What food did you have in the evening?' I simply said, 'Some idli, some moru, like that.' He said, 'No, no, no, you had dosa’, this makes me know that he knows everything.
Once he wanted my mother to come to Bangalore, I did not want her to be there because she is 85, a heart patient. Then Baba said, 'ask your mother to come’. I said, 'Swami, buses are on strike, how can she come?' Baba said, 'No, the strike is withdrawn, the manager of the bus corporation is sitting here in the auditorium, fiftieth line, he is seated in the corner there. Bluff, bring her here,' He said.
Well that makes me know, and also feel convinced that I should not repeat such a thing. Once I had been to the market, and I was late for bhajans. And I said, 'Swami, I am sorry I am late.' 'I don't mind if you are late, but why did you tell other lecturers you are there in the college busy with examinations. Why did you tell them that? Tell them that you had gone to the market. There is nothing wrong about that. Don't bluff, I know everything that you said.'
He is all-knowing. He is all-powerful, omnipotent. Once, I got into the train-station and I was to leave that night. I was speaking with the Superintendent of the railways at Kajipet, near Hyderabad. I always forget about the time and in this case also the train, when I start to speak about Baba. Well the train came and left the platform, I got afraid that I might have to pay a heavy penalty, lose the job at Christian College, if I did not show up in the morning. Praying to Swami; 'what’s all this?' Please believe me, subject to verification, the train that crossed the signal post started reversing, the train started reversing. For the first time, Godavari Express, which runs very fast, started reversing. It stopped in front of me and I got in the train. When I went to Puttaparthy, Swami said, 'You don't have a sense of time, you would've missed the train altogether. Behave yourself properly.' That's what Baba said. So he could make the train come back to the platform, even though it left already. He is all-powerful.
He sent me to Japan. Well, I was running late, delayed. I had to catch the Indian Airline. What had to be done? I ran immediately. It was about to leave, I was the last man to get onto the flight. Swami was telling there in Brindavan, "Your principal is shaky, I delayed the international flight by about 5 minutes so our Anil Kumar didn’t miss his flight.' Baba is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-compassionate God. He knows my weaknesses, he knows my pitfalls, but yet, He forgives and forgives. Out of one's own experience we learn and can understand some of the Grace, Love and Light He showers us with all the time, anywhere.
AP: What about the time when you had your favorite food, bobbattu and you went to the room and ate it without sharing?
AK: (Laughs) In South India, in Andhra, there is one special preparation by name of bobbattu. Such a sweet is not made by any other person, no hotel supplies that. It is a home-made, soft, tender, delicate sweet. And that sweet would last for one week. But that sweet must be soaked and bathed in ghee. Give it a holy dip in ghee and start eating it. Oh it is a heavenly experience. My wife sent me six of them for my birthday. Well I have no time to eat because my room is always full. People come 'Anil Kumar, please talk to us. What are the latest miracles? What is happening, we have a few questions.' So I have got visitors all the time. On the day of my birthday, I chose nagarsankeertan time so that nobody would come to me. When all the people where running for Darshan, I closed my room doors from inside, bolted it, and switched off the light. I had all six of them – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. I had some cloves so that nobody would detect or find out. Well, I went and sat there on the verandah. Swami came, and instead of going round the whole circle of devotees, He walked straight to me and said, 'All the six bobbattu in your stomach, all safe there. Couldn’t you give one or two to some friends? Today is your birthday.' And then he materialized vibhuthi for me. I remember that. Thank you for reminding me.
AP: And what about the time you had a half bath and Swami confronted you in the verandah?
AK: I come from a very hot place in Andhra, Guntoor. But it was the time when Swami wanted me there in Bangalore as the principal of his college. Bangalore is a cold place relatively. I was used to hot water and all that, for bathing purposes. I had to go to Prasanthi Nilayam on official duty. I carried with me immersion coil, and as a principal, my seat in the first row is guaranteed. It was ten minutes to go for Darshan. I had put my heater and the immersion coil in the water but the hot water was not ready. What's wrong? There was no power supply. I didn't notice it. I was not able to have cold water bath, so I just sprinkled water on me, kandasnanam; a partial bath. I put on a new suit and applied spray and sat there. Our good Lord made a round and came towards me, stood in front of me, and said, 'Some people come for Darshan without taking a bath.' I felt highly embarrassed. Swami, please move forward, because there are students here and a number of lecturers. I felt somebody may ask me tomorrow, 'Sir, have you had your bath?' I wanted Swami to leave the place just in front of me but Baba stayed and said, 'Can't you have a cold water bath? Puttaparthy is a hot place. Why do you need hot water?' he said. 'Swami, SaiRam I said' and then He finally moved.
He called a few foreigners for a group interview. After some time, I went to my room, and then we had power supply. I had two hot water buckets ready, very hot water – and had a bath with vengeance; such that half of the soap was exhausted. Then new suit, applied spray and sat there. It was Bhajan time. Usually during Bhajan time, Swami won't come out. He sits inside Bhajan hall. But that time He came out, walked towards me and said, 'Normal bath is enough Sir. Why abnormal bath? Take normal bath.' And then looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry hereafter. I know what you are doing in the bathroom and the bedroom, but I shall not speak about those things. Don't be afraid of me.' That's what Baba said.
AP: Would you like to recount the story of Colonel Sood?
AK: Col Sood was in Bangalore at that time. And I was the principal of the campus in Bangalore; it was the first year of my stay. I didn't know how Baba works. As a principal, one stays in the campus from 10-5, that's all. But Baba came there on a Sunday. How can you expect Baba to visit the college on a Sunday? How can anyone expect me to stay there in the college on a Sunday? Swami came straight, and he saw few people working in the garden; Col Sood and three of his associates from the army. He called me, 'Who are they?' Swami said, 'I don't know Swami.' 'You don't know?' 'I don't know Swami.' 'You are the principal of the college and you don't know who they are, why they are here, or what they are doing?' 'Swami they are working on the garden. I was told they come here every weekend and work. I said, 'Swami, shall I ask them to go?' Then he said, 'You have not asked them to come, how can you ask them to go? You have no authority. Keep quiet.' he said. I kept quiet. Then Swami left.
I went to do some homework now. I went and asked, 'Sir what is your name?' He said, 'I am Col Sood. 'Who are the others?' He said, 'One man is from Tamil Nadu, the other is from Andhra Pradesh, this one is from Gujarat' he introduced me to some army people there. Now I know who they are. In the evening Swami came again. Before Swami asked, I started speaking, 'Swami, Col Sood is from Punjab, he is from Andhra Pradesh, and he is from Gujarat.' 'Oh' Swami said, 'Aha.' And then he went close to Sood, and he removed a ring from Mr. Soods finger, just like that, and said, 'Sood, I gave you this ring ten years ago.' (AK blows to show action) It got transformed into a diamond, and he put it back on his finger. Then Baba said, 'Sood, your daughter is in second year MBBS right?' I was listening to all this. I felt very highly embarrassed, highly sensitive, and I was shaking. I said to Swami, 'Swami, this morning you asked me why I don't know about them. This evening when I am telling You about them, you are listening to me as if you don't know anything. Now you talk to Sood and tell him you gave him a ring ten years ago. When you know these things, why do you ask me Swami?' I said. Baba said, 'I know everything. But you should know that I know, therefore I put you in this situation, you should know I know, therefore this situation is created.' I am glad that you made me recall these sweet reminiscences.
AP: You've had a golden journey in your life so far. You started out being a Brahmo Samajist, who don’t believe in God in a form. Isn’t that the final form of God? You came from there and you ascended to Bhagawan Baba's grace. Did you know about Bhagawan Baba at that time?
AK: To be very honest, I don't say I have ascended. I started my journey from that point of faith, which goes by attributeless, nameless and a formless God. Coming to Baba, I practice Brahmo Samaj more sincerely than before. I understand concepts of Brahmo Samaj today much better than earlier. I practice it more sincerely than before. It speaks of nirguna–attributeless, nirakara–formless. When Swami speaks of those concepts, it goes straight to my heart, because that is the way I have been brought up – my family belongs to Brahmo Samaj for three generations. Instead of calling it ascended, I would say my faith is confirmed, reasserted and it got deepened and strengthened, which is the ultimate reality, as it is said in Upanishads. Upanishads concept of divinity is totally different. Theology speaks of name and form; Upanishads don't speak of name and form. Upanishads speak of God as a concept, as energy – nameless, formless, birthless, deathless, no beginning and no end, whatever.
AP; Your beloved mother, who passed away recently at a ripe old age: she was a very unusual lady, wasn't she?
AK: Yes, she was; she was the first woman graduate from Andhra Pradesh. In those days it was a social taboo. Nobody sent their girls to schools or colleges. Those days’ girls got married at the age of 8. Whereas my mother finished graduation – she is the first lady graduate from Andhra Pradesh. Because Brahmo Samaj believes in women's emancipation, champion of women's cause, social reform, and religious efficacy. Later she did her MA in English from Queen Mary's College, Madras, gold medalist, and she was the first district educational officer in Andhra Pradesh. She was the college beauty in those days. She studied in a Christian College, where I have studied and served for many years.
AP: Your mother was conferred many blessings by Bhagawan Baba, but not taken in by all this, was she?
AK: Yes, Swami materialized for her a chain, a beautiful chain, with all precious stones and a pendant. Swami materialized for her diamond earrings and a diamond ring also.
She was still a staunch Brahmo, and she said Baba represents an ideal human Excellence, that's how she looked at Him. Baba always gave her special treatment. When all of us were squatting on the ground, He made a chair to be brought, and He wanted my mother to sit on the chair. He introduced her to everybody, 'She is the mother of Anil Kumar. Very strong lady, a lady of discipline, she writes poetry, excellent English.' He went on praising her, and towards the end, my mother said, 'Swami I have got one question.' And my mother said, 'Swami I believe in dualism, I am a devotee, there is a God, I pray to Him so that He will respond to my prayers – ‘Oh God, I am in difficulty, please help me.’ Dualism gives me an anchor and support, someone to lean upon, someone to depend upon. So I love God, I am separate from God; dualism. 'Ah, is that so?' That's what Baba said. And my mother added, 'Swami, my son speaks of non-dualism, about the inner self which is supposed to be the supreme God. God and the Self are one and the same.' Then Baba said, 'Your son only speaks, he has no experience; you are much better than him, follow your own path, don't deviate from it at this age.' He gave me a broad heartful smile at the same time. He asked the principal at Brindavan to take her around the campus, show her every room. Baba gave her all the special treatment.
AP: We have heard about your mother, but never about your father.
AK: Oh yes, my father did his MA in English, MSc Hons in Physics, B.Ed diploma in library science. He retired as a Regional Joint Director of higher education. He was a poet, an eloquent orator, a scientist. He worked on 'Raman effect' in Andhra University under the great scientist, S. Bhagvantham. And he came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi while he was at Wardha, he believed in basic education, he served for the cause of basic education. Subsequently he served as a Regional Librarian, and ended up his career as Director of Higher Education.
AP: You mentioned a magic name: Dr. Bhagavantham. Professor Kasturi was holding the reigns as Baba's translator, that's a very holy place indeed. I remember that Professor Bhagavantham was Babas translator after Prof. Kasturi, later Sudarshan and then you, Professor Anil Kumar.
AK: Professor Kasturi is of course one of a kind, no parallel. Bhagavantham was a phenomenon; he has got a very high profile. Such a man translating Swami's discourses has got its own value, because people know Bhagavantham is a top scientist. When he is translating, 'Look here, people might think, a top scientist believes in God, translating today!' So it’s got its own value.
Sudarshan was a good administrator, a post-graduate in Physics who dedicated his life to the cause of Swami; naturally Sudarshan symbolizes a typical student of Sai institutions.
Well in respect of these people, Anil Kumar is just an average commoner, a normal human being after all, a simple, humble college lecturer. I had my education in Telugu medium, for your information, till my 12th class, then I was taken into English medium after getting into college studies for graduation. Anil Kumar being a translator in the presence of Swami is a miracle. A man, who had his education in Telugu medium, translating his divine discourses today for the benefit of the whole world, is a miracle of Baba. Perhaps my predecessors were competent enough to translate, but this competence in terms of Anil Kumar is conferred. Competence they achieved here is conferred, but I have nothing to claim, just to watch. I am happy about translating and I do my best.' I think I am no match to my predecessors, no, no, no.
I: Humble as you are Sir, you sat in Darshan lines for about 7 years before Bhagawan Baba even noticed you as you were experiencing it. He talked to the person on your left; he talked to the person on your right. How was that experience?
AK: Well, It was very painful. Because every time I returned home from Puttaparthy people would flock around me and say, 'Did you get padanamaskar? Did you get an interview? Did Baba give you a ring? Did he give you vibhuthi?' Well, I used to feel very sorry about it, so what I did in those days was to avoid Sai devotees, at least for two weeks after my return from Puttaparthy, I avoided them because I had nothing to say.
For seven long years He never looked at me; moreover He would avoid the row where I was seated. But I had one thought – 'Swami, people say you speak so endearingly, Bhagawan people say that you bring out all the secrets of one's own inner heart; Swami don't I deserve your grace? How is it that you talk to everybody? I come from a good family, my parents are known for their integrity and honesty, my grandparents are Brahmo missionaries, and they sacrificed their life and comforts for the cause of the Divine in the name of Brahmo Samaj. Well, I am tolerably good, if not ideal; don't I deserve a smile, a padnamaskar, Bhagavan, what is wrong with me?' That was my feeling. 'It is enough if you just talk to me once Swami.'
But I could not stop going to Him, every festival I used to attend then return, no smile, nothing. It happened after seven years, now I understand why I experienced that long probation of seven years. Coming from Brahmo Samaj, it is very difficult to accept that concept of incarnation, it is impossible to accept, to believe, a moving man as God - impossible. Having been wedded to Brahmo Samaj mission, its cause and movement for three generations, for that man to accept Baba as God is not an easy thing.
So perhaps those years were to make me introspect, maybe it was His way to crush the hard stone of my heart: ‘Let my heart be as soft as butter, so that I will be able to know the value of incarnation and to cherish its value,’ was also a prayer of mine. Had I been spoken to on the very first day, I would not have known the value of waiting, longing and praying from the depth of my heart. Had I been granted an interview on the very first day, I would have considered it as a chance, an incident or an accident.
But seven years longing, yearning, pain and seven years of waiting – made me know the value of what Swami is. So today, when people say, 'You're very close to Swami!' – I don't feel proud, not in the least, because for seven years, I experienced the unspoken teachings of Baba. He chose to be silent, then, He chose to be close to me and I am the witness to both, that was the training, the period of that experience. One is the corollary of the other that is how I see it.
AP: As translator of God, you have a very special position; because you let us understand what Bhagawan Baba is saying in His discourses, especially for those who don't understand the magnificent, poetic language of Telugu. There are moments when you get stuck, and the students laugh, also moments when He corrects you. What's happening at that time?
AK: I take it this way: supposing if translation goes on smoothly, uninterrupted, there is every chance of the audience feeling that Swami must have spoken about all this to Anil Kumar already, therefore they might imagine he is translating with no effort, he is doing it easily with poise and tempo, so they conclude Swami must have told him already. But I make some mistakes now and then, Swami corrects me, then the audience will understand that everything is spontaneous, instantaneous, there is nothing rehearsed. Second thing that people know is that it is good luck and fortune to listen to the Telugu language in which He speaks. Baba knows English better than anyone!
For example: When I say 'consciousness,' He says 'You are wrong!' He says' No, no, no, constant integrated awareness, not consciousness.'
AP: What's the difference?
AK: When I say consciousness, meaning the eternal witness. Constant integrated awareness meaning the constant awareness of that consciousness. I know that I am a witness that is only as a concept. But if by experience, I am aware of it that I am a witness that is constant integrated awareness.
For example, I see a movie. I see films. I am different from the films. I only witness the film; I watch the film, constantly with the feeling that it is only a cinema. I am only a witness to it – constant integrated awareness. If one is a witness to one's own life, situations and happenings, that's called constant integrated awareness.
AP: There are moments like during Sivarathri discourse, when Bhagawan goes on describing the physical beauty of Lord Shiva. It was some verses which you couldn't translate – what happens during those moments to you?
AK: Well Swami suddenly goes on speaking Sanskrit words, I am not a student of Sanskrit, I don't know that language. He will use few words I know from Telugu language – 80 to 90 percent of Telugu language has Sanskrit words. Even if I know those words, I fumble. I don't translate, because the beauty of the words is gone. Translation after all is a translation. If I translate Shakespeare into Telugu, people may enjoy, but how about the original? Milton, Dante, the original flavor is gone. If Kalidas is translated into English, the original beauty is gone. So suppose He goes on singing (AK sings.) Will you translate and spoil the beauty of it? Am I to murder the nascent glamour, glitter and content of that beautiful song composed by God Himself? Therefore I fold my hands, 'Swami, that's enough, I can't translate,' then everybody laughs.
Oh I too enjoy along with others, there is nothing like failure, or helplessness. I don't want to spoil any of the song it is so beautiful composed in the original Telugu language. Translation is no match, it is an apology, it is an excuse, and it doesn't reflect all that He meant. So I remain silent with folded hands and everybody laughs.
AK: So Swami quoting the beauty of Thyagaraja there on the dais, oh I don't think it needs any translation. The song itself may create certain vibrations in you. Without knowing the meaning you experience the bliss, we don't have to know the meaning of everything after all. The sound itself has got its own effect. (AK chants) 'Om.' When you say the Om, you may not know the meaning, but the very sound has got healing power, curative capacity. It takes you to heights of meditation, so when Swami sings, try to inhale his vibration with your whole being and you will benefit from it in the way which only experience can tell.
I: What does Om, Aum mean?
AK: (AK chants a long Aum). Three ah-ooh-mm. Creation, Sustenance, Annihilation. It is the three aspects of the Triple-Godhead.
AP: Swami says it is like an aircraft taking off, lighter sound first, can you please explain that?
AK: There are three things here namely Aaah – when you say 'aah' meaning, full throated, 'ooh' and 'mmm' – close it. So when you do it, it is also a kind of breathing exercise; a breath control. It regulates your thought process and directs your mind, making it focus on the Divine. So uttering the Omkar before every mantra is meant to focus your mind, it is a breathing exercise, as well as a concentration method. When the breath is controlled the thought is regulated. (AK chants Om) Thoughts are under control and we are ready to take off towards meditation. That's what it is.
AP: You have one advantage over Professor Kasturi who was a Malayalee and English scholar, you were born into the language. How would you compare yourself with the man who studied the language and eventually translated it?
AK: People loved his Telugu, though it was not complete or 100 percent Telugu, people liked it because he could convey and deliver the content, he did it so well, oh yes. Another thing we should never compare our self with others, the way to find out who we are is by looking to see whether we are fulfilling our own potential in the best way we know how.
AP: We have been talking about formless God. In 2004, Swami declared in a discourse that there is no Brahma, there is no Shiva, there is no Vishnu – these are all rituals. Some of the Brahmin scholars were shocked by His declaration. Eventually, I read about Shironayaka, who is above all these three, is that what He said, formless, Brahmam?
AK: Formless, correct, correct. That may have been a shock to many people the reason is this Sir. Swami takes us through the course of evolution, the fellows don't realize it. All His talks are full of stories, later He was referring to values, and today, non-dualistic approach: total Advaita. He goes to the extent of saying;’ you are God,’ we have come here thinking that He is God; only to hear that ‘you are God.’
We are thinking He is God, and He tells us, we are God, that is Advaita. Therefore, Swami wants us to evolve, to raise our consciousness, to experience the divinity within, that which is latent, immanent, within us. The latent, immanent divinity within us has to manifest in the form of love, love is the manifestation of the inner divinity. So that's what He meant.
But most people are not evolving and the reason is, they're full of desires, they're full of worldly attachment. So, they don't attach value to those concepts, everyone is bothered about their own desires. 'Oh, when is my son going abroad? When is my daughter going to get married? When will I be cured from my arthritis?'
Most people don’t think of those values, those spiritual heights, so Swami says, this time point blank, that God is nameless and formless.
(AK sings) 'When the whole cosmos is within Me and the whole universe is within Me, you serve Me breakfast and lunch. Do I need breakfast and lunch when the whole world is within Me? The whole greenery, forests and trees are in Me, why do you want to feed Me when I am present in all oceans and rivers? You want to give me a bath, when I am the indweller in all beings! What name can you give Me, by what name can you call Me? When I have got all the effulgence, radiance, light of a million suns, you hold a candle in front of Me! Even the Creator cannot gaze at My Divinity, cannot estimate My Divinity, you cannot understand My Divinity, what more can be said about the Divine?' says our Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
AP and I: Thank you Professor Anil Kumar, it has been a rare privilege to have you back, Thank you Bhagawan Baba.
AK: May Bhagwan bless all of you. I really enjoyed talking to you, I am so happy for your deep and spiritual questions this meeting I am also happy if all our viewers benefit from this talk.
Happy moments: Praise God. Difficult moment: Seek God. Quiet moments: Worship God. Painful Moments: Trust God. Every moment: Thank God
Thank you, SaiRam.
Prof. Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang
a. “As You Think, So You Become” Part II
b. “One Into Many” part 1 & 2
c. Latest: “Question and Answers”
d.“As You Think, So You Become” Part 1